Heat pumps outsold gas furnaces in 2023—Here’s why
Five reasons and a whole lot of charts
Our homes are big polluters. If all the homes in America formed a country, they would be the sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world. Each year, American homes put one billion tons of planet-warming pollution into the atmosphere—more than the entire economies of Iran, Germany, and South Korea.
As I wrote in a story last summer, decarbonizing these homes will require replacing 66 million fossil fuel heating systems with heat pumps over the next few decades—among other things, of course. It’s a daunting task. But last year, the country made significant progress towards that goal, according to data from the leading HVAC trade group.
Heat pump sales outpaced gas furnaces for the second year in a row—outselling their fossil fuel rival by 27%. In the last two years, homeowners have installed a combined one million more heat pumps than gas furnaces.
Total sales of all HVAC equipment were down in 2023 due to high interest rates, inflation, and supply chain issues. But the widening gap between sales of heat pumps and furnaces is significant: the larger the gap the faster home emissions will decline.
So why are heat pumps outselling furnaces? In this post, we’ll look at five reasons. Like all trends in climate, there’s no single driver of progress. Instead, many factors—some interrelated—have coalesced to change how Americans heat and cool their homes.